Far from the boisterous beach party scene of Kuta, in the central region of this remarkable little island, lies Ubud – the cultural centre of Bali. Surrounded by lush, terraced rice paddies, and exquisite temples, Ubud is jam-packed with tourist attractions. Its busy town centre is lined with a slew of art galleries, cafes, craft shops and spas. One of the town’s most visited sites is the Sacred Forest Monkey Sanctuary which is home to hundreds of wild monkeys as well as three Hindi temples. Spend your days strolling around the lively streets of central Ubud or get away from the hustle and bustle by renting a bicycle and exploring the rice field lined rivers where traditional village life carries on relatively undisturbed. Nights can be spent enjoying the live music performances of the town’s live music venues or taking in one of the nightly Kecak Fire and Dance or shadow puppet performances.
Once a small fishing village, Jimbaran is now scattered with 5-star resorts and high-end villas, earning it the nickname of ‘The Beverly Hills of Bali’. Visitors to the area spend their days luxuriating on the white sand beaches, browsing the chic boutiques or swimming in the crystal waters of the bay. Dinner time in Jimbaran is a unique experience – diners can select their own live seafood at any of the restaurants along the waterfront, where it will be prepared immediately and cooked over a fire of coconut husks – a distinct and delectable taste sensation.
Perched 1500 metres high on the edge of the Batur Caldera, in northeastern Bali, the village of Kintamani overlooks the magnificent Lake Batur and offers panoramic views of the active volcano Mount Batur. It serves as the perfect base from which to explore the picturesque Gunung Batur Region. Visitors can explore the area with a scenic bicycle ride, an adventurous trek through the lush greenery covering the volcanic slopes or simply drive along the winding roads and soak up the beautiful surrounding views. Visit the numerous sacred Balinese temples – one of which is Pura Ulun Danu Batur – one of Bali’s most important temples; discover the little village of Penelokan hugging the lake’s edge, soak in a collection of hot springs and catch a traditional Balinese dance performance.
Mature travellers will delight in the relaxed seaside ambience of Candi Dasa, located at the edge of a freshwater lagoon in eastern Bali. A popular tourist spot since the ‘70s, this seaside town is renowned for its laid-back atmosphere, and superb snorkelling and diving conditions. The most impressive dive sites are around the rocky islets of Gili Selang, Gili Biaha, Gili Mimpang and Gili Tepekong, where divers can see exquisite coral gardens, several species of sharks and, between August and October, enormous oceanic sunfish, which grow up to six feet. A visit to Pura Candi Dasa, twin temples devoted to Shiva and Hariti, set atop the hillside overlooking the lagoon, proves a fascinating expedition.
Whether you’re mesmerized by the engineering mastery, the wonder of nature orthe sheer beauty if it all, a visit to the Tegalalang rice terrace will have your jawdropping. Wear comfy shoes for the 50-step decent to a viewing platform, where you can look back up at this the unique farming method that makes for a such a spectacular view. If the crowds of tourists overwhelm you, consider hiring a guide to take you to see the locals tending their fields nearby, and be sure to stop at the coffee farms on the way for a tasting of the local brew.
If you’re looking for a party in Bali, Kuta should be your first stop. A popular holiday destination, the region draws a vibrant crowd of travellers to its resorts, shops, surf spots and nightly shindigs. A visit to Kuta isn’t complete without indulging in some retail therapy at the local markets, or going for a surf lesson. For a more cultural experience, stop by the Bali Bomb Memorial to pay homage to the departed, or wake up early to watch the locals cast offerings into the sea.
Known as Bali’s beach hotspot, Canggu lies on the beautiful south coast of this beautiful Indonesian island. It encompasses the 8-kilometre stretch of coast between Kerobokan and Echo Beach. Popular with expats, Canggu boasts an array of new villas, contemporary restaurants and a host of street-side cafes serving the latest green smoothie concoction. The surrounding landscape features magnificent terraced rice paddies and not to mention its world-famous black-sand beaches. Visitors can enjoy fresh fish, lobsters and prawns on Nelayan Beach and experience authentic Balinese village life in Canggu. Venture further afield and enjoy the vibrant nightlife of the nearby Kuta, and visit Tana Lot, a sacred Hindu temple Other popular activities include surfing, swimming, yoga, and golfing.
Located in the north central region of Bali, Bedugul is a popular mountain lake resort area encompassing the villages of Bedugul, Candikuning, Pancasari, Pacung and Wanagiri as well as three crater lakes including: Lake Bratan, Lake Buyan, and Lake Tamblingan. Visitors can look forward to a wide selection of local attractions and activities such as visiting the Bedugul Botanic Garden, covering over 150 hectares it is the largest botanical garden in Indonesia; visit the magnificent Lake Bratan, the second largest lake after lake Batur on the island; and discover the sacred 17th-century Ulun Danu Temple Bedugul Tabanan edging the lake.
Situated in West Bali, the town of Negara serves as the capital of the remote Jembrana region. The town is surrounded by unspoilt jungle blanketing undulating hills interwoven with rice paddies and fringed by pristine beaches. It is known for its annual buffalo races and bamboo gamelan, a form of traditional Balinese ensemble music. Visitors can look forward to soaking up the impressive Balinese architecture of the Bugis Houses in the town, visit the nearby West Bali National Park and view Madurese-style fishing boats, colourful boats moored at the village of Pangambengan.
As the capital of Bali, Denpasar is known as the gateway to the island. Vibey and bustling, this city has it all – postcard-perfect beaches and a wealth of watersports, hot and happening night spots, world renowned spas, and some fascinating historical and cultural attractions. The Museum Negeri Propinsi Bali is the foremost museum in the country and will give you insight into Balinese culture – past and present. It’s definitely not to be missed. The city’s array of restaurants offer plenty of tasty and authentic dishes, while the local food markets provide as many opportunities for people-watching as for sampling traditional fare.
If a little R&R is the order of the day, then Bali’s Lovina Beach is where you want tohead. On the northwestern side of the island, the strip stretches along the coast justwest of the city of Singaraja. Narrow black, sandy beaches lead on to calm waterwith perfect swimming conditions, where you can while away the day diving,snorkeling and dolphin spotting. Evenings are spent enjoying a cocktail at one of theopen-air bars, and watching the sunset. Not ready for bed yet? Join in the nightlygame of volleyball near the bars.
West Bali National Park
Set on the northwestern tip of Bali, West Bali National Park is a conservation area covering over 19000 hectares including the Prapat Agung Peninsula and the surrounding coastal waters. The landscape of the park is characterised by lush rainforest, open savannah, mountains, mangrove swamps, seaweed meadows and coral reefs, as well as a little island reserve called Menjangan Island, which is home to the native barking deer and dotted with ancient Hindu temples. The park is inhabited by the incredibly rare Bali starling, endemic to the area, it is one of the world’s rarest birds.
Batubulan is a small, vibrant village located in the west area of the Gianyar Regency, about 8 kilometres from the town of Denpasar on the island of Bali. The village is particularly renowned as a lively art and culture hub; visitors can enjoy daily Keris fire and Barong dances which are performed at various locations in Batubulan and partake in the array of crafts workshops lining the roads. There are also several art galleries, crafts, and antique shops displaying fascinating local stone sculptures and woodworks.
Field upon field of verdant green rice paddies meet the vibrant blue sky in scenic Tabanan, the regency found in central and western Bali. Recent infrastructure developments have made this previously remote part of the island easier to reach. Tourists can now take in the magnitude of Mount Batukaru, the second-highest mountain peak on the island at 2 276 metres, or absorb some culture at temple complexes like Taman Ayun, Ulun Danu Bratan or Pura Luhur Batukaru. Other sites of interest include NungNung waterfall and the Angseri Hot Springs.
Dotting the Bali Sea just off the coast of mainland Bali, Nusa Penida is the largest of the three Nusa islands including Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. The island boasts a blend of cultural influences with its rare cultural highlights and unique Hindu Temples. It is home to breathtaking landscapes featuring hidden coves, dramatic cliffs, fascinating caves and white-sand beaches lapped by crystal-clear turquoise water. Visitors can look forward to excellent diving off the coast of Crystal Bay offering pristine coral reefs which are home to an array of marine life including the giant manta rays, oceanic sunfish, and whale sharks. Other popular activities include: exploring the underground temple in the Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave, viewing the rugged cliffs encircling Atuh Beach and enjoying a float in the magical waters of the chrystalline Angel’s Billabong.
Strung between Nusa Dua and Benoa village on Bali lies Tanjung Benoa, a peninsulatrimmed with family-friendly resorts and hotels. The area is popular withwatersport enthusiasts, with visitors from other areas pouring in for the day to takeadvantage of the calm waters and idyllic white sand beaches. Jet skiis, banana boatsand parasails are amongst some of the most popular activities on offer. Away fromthe beach the town is calm and peaceful, with quaint fishing villages and traditionaltemples in close proximity for exploration.